How the rich get richer

It is up to us to keep the pressure on the Googles, Starbucks, Amazons, Barclays and the other internet giants and multinationals to pay a realistic share of the taxes that keep our society working.

You could see in Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, a disconnect when he was confronted with the pitiful amount of tax returns Google makes.

He does not see it as his job to ensure the societies he sells in have healthy economies. His job is to maximize profits for shareholders and to pay executives salaries, that’s all.

Even if he runs a company whose motto of 2004 was “Don’t be evil. We will be stronger in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world, even if we forego some short-term gains.”

The goal does not seem to have lasted very long.

Google’s UK subsidiary filed returns saying it paid £6-million in tax for 2011, a year when its revenue was £395-million.

Google is not the only company to be facing these charges.

“It is not just companies that are avoiding tax responsibilities”

It is hard to find any of the large multinationals that don’t have similar practices.

Companies will only change their behaviour for reasons beyond their control: either the law requires fairer practice or the customers force them to do so.

We need to keep international tax system changes on the agenda of the politicians. It will be on the agenda of the G8 annual summit when it meets in Northern Ireland in June.

When banks are being rescued by tax payers, and multinationals paying most of the profits into untaxed offshore tax havens for ‘license fees’, it is time for governments to take their responsibilities seriously.

Osborne’s policy of cutting taxes has not got us out of this recession and, when companies can pay only 1.5% of their profits in taxes, how much further can he cut?

It is not just companies that are avoiding tax responsibilities.

Oxfam International has released a report claiming that tax havens for wealthy individuals are depriving governments of over £99-billion a year in tax revenue.

So Ed Miliband warning Google that he would have them paying more taxes is good, but the whole system needs to be revamped, and with the way the world is now it must be done at an international level.

I’m hoping that we might be reaching that tipping point that starts a big campaign to pressure politicians for better legislation, changes in consumers’ spending that shows companies we mean business and all of us educating ourselves on what is going on.

These constant spending cuts are leading us into a dark and dangerous place, building more inequality into society.

It is only when those who profit from our consumption pay a fair share of the taxes that we might have a chance of a fairer and more equable world.

Categories: Law, Politics

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Picture of Christine Bond